There was a time, not too long ago, when loyal and one-club men used to dominate Football all around the world. They were present at pretty much every Football club out there; those few players who had been at one club for so long were considered to be “THE” men to look out for because of their longevity. Those players commanded respect in the dressing room, on the pitch and on the terraces. Money was far less important back then and remaining faithful to your roots was the be-all and end-all for footballers. They wanted to become legends at their respective clubs. Those players would wear the jerseys with pride, knowing that they felt a true attachment to the club. It was their club. They were part of the entity, the history and they represented the values of their clubs.
Nowadays, that type of footballer has become a dying breed. They still exist but their number has reduced significantly over the past decade or so. The very few ones that are left are now reaching the end of their careers. We rarely find these men at Football clubs in this day and age. The majority of Football clubs now have to accustom themselves with a very different type of footballer. One who becomes adored by his supporters only to turn his back on the club and move to their rivals or neighbours because of the money he’s been offered. One who holds his club at a ransom and demands for a transfer request and is subsequently given a new bumper contract for it. One who’s ready to move to any corner of the world just to make sure his payday is boosted at the end of the month. One who kisses the club’s badge with this sense of true emotion, only to be found doing the same at another club, a couple of years later, that he never had any allegiance for. Football is dealing with a different type of animal now: the mercenary.
This modern day soldier of fortune has contaminated our game. With Football’s money now reaching astronomical levels, thanks to advertising, foreign ownership, agents and TV rights, amongst other things, there are now no limits as to what a player could earn per week. That’s why it isn’t surprising that players like Carlos Tevez, Ashley Cole or Samuel Eto’o move around for financial purposes. It has become so common that we are almost getting used to the fact that sooner or later, any player at any club could decide to jump the boat and leave to greener pastures; and when that happens, in a split second the love we had for the player suddenly becomes hate. Not just any type of hate; hatred so strong that we actually find ourselves wishing bad things upon the player because of the motives behind his decision to leave. We find ourselves calling these players all sorts of names, especially money-related names.
But we Football supporters are an emotional bunch. We are so strongly attached to the game and the clubs we support, that we lose all sense of rationality when discussing anything about it. Regardless of where we are from in the world, we all feel that the players have an obligation to feel the same as we do. But we’re bloody wrong. These are men who are lucky enough to be living our dreams and are earning ridiculous sums of money to be doing something that most of us, if given the chance, would do for free. But these very men have no attachments to any clubs. What started initially as a passion for them, the mercenaries, has become a job. They now go searching for the best deals possible, rather than looking to achieve the most success possible. These mercenaries have become products of a Football machine which generates so much money, that they’re just looking at getting the best piece of the pie.
When any young boy starts playing Football, at some point he will deeply believe that he’s going to become a professional footballer. I’m pretty sure that most of the men reading this would testify to feeling that, at one point or another in their lives, they felt they could make it. I know I did. But when you’re a kid your love of the game isn’t because of the money, it’s because of the passion. It’s for the love of the game. We don’t think about anything else. But that’s what has changed with these mercenaries. I believe that these men, for whatever reasons, have either lost their passion for the game or have become disillusioned by the money in the game. What once was their passion, has now become a job with ridiculous sums of money involved. They think like businessmen rather than footballers. Meaning that, just like the rest of us who've got normal jobs, when a better financial offer comes along, regardless of the external or internal factors, we’re likely to take it. The reason is simple: because we (most of us) have no emotional attachments to our jobs. As long as we’re performing the tasks we are good at, it doesn’t matter where we are doing it. A better offer comes, we’ll take it (most of the time). I may be wrong, but that's what I believe is happening with a vast majority of modern-day footballers. They’re aware of their own talents, so they’re just using them to earn as much as they possibly can. Just like any one of us would do, at any other job…unfortunately, I believe it's now hit footballers.
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